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Posts posted by ParkMan

  1. Our park does essentially what ScoutNut describes. Generally we get about 75% of the den leaders. There's a couple of dens who's leaders attend about half the time.


    The biggest problems we have are that 1) there is never enough time in 90 minutes to cover it all, and that 2) some leaders gripe that they are boring.


    Of those leaders who do not attend, I definitely see the pattern Stosh describes. Folks who don't come and simply wait for other leaders to organize the pack level activities. I'm not sure how to break that pattern though.

  2. We have a fairly developed pack website. It serves three purposes:

    - marketing

    - a central spot with our most current calendar

    - a repository for frequently asked questions like - how should I pack for a campout? what patches do I need for my son's uniform


    We do not use it as a mechanism for sending out pack info. We use email for that.

  3. I think we're missing an important component in this discussion - the pack committee itself. From the BSA website:


    Every pack is under the supervision of a pack committee... (rest omitted) Responsibilities: Regardless of the size of the pack committee, these responsibilities must be performed:

    • Make recommendations regarding pack leadership to the chartered organization for final approval of pack leadership.
    • Recruit the Cubmaster and one or more assistant Cubmasters, with the chartered organization’s approval.
    • Coordinate the pack’s program and the chartered organization’s program through the chartered organization representative.
    • Help with pack charter renewal.
    • Help stimulate the interest of adult family members through proper programming.
    • Supervise finances and equipment.
    • Vigorously assist the Cubmaster.
    • Ensure that all Cub Scouts receive a year-round, quality program.
    • Complete pack committee Fast Start training and Basic Leader Training for the position.
    • Conduct, with the help of the Cubmaster, periodic training for parents and guardians.
    • Cooperate with other Scouting units.

    I bolded the ones that seem relevant here. In my pack (at different times I've been CM & CC), the pack comimttee has final say on any decision. Could we get into a turf war? I suppose, but we don't because at the end of the day, both the CC & the CM defer to final decisions of the committee.


    Also, the BSA pack org chart shows the Cubmaster clearly reporting to the commitee.


    I would expect that in a situation like this, the issue should be raised at a pack committee meeting. If the committee is fine with it, then case closed. If committee disagrees, but the CM digs in, hopefully the COR is self aware enough that he supports the decision of the committee. This keeps any one person from running amuk and wreaking havoc.



    So, can the CM reassign den leaders? I suppose he can, but so what? The committee can just say - this isn't who we want to be, switch it back. Or the committee can say, great idea - next topic.

  4. One more question now that I've reviewed your post ...




    Do you mean the "primary" adult? Or, are you talking the 4th-string driver.


    Also, what is your average distance to your "insertion" or "extraction" points? If it's just those longer distance trips that are a chronic problem: have a plan B location that doesn't involve transportation.


    Some of the hikes that I plan, actually involve thinking through with the boys alternate insertion points. Once I did have to fall back on a "Plan C" because of heavy rains the week before.


    The canceled trip(s) where when the primary adult canceled. They made an attempt to find an alternate, but could not. There were others adults that would go, just not anyone who felt comfortable leading a group.


    It's a mix of which trips have problems - sometimes it's local trips - 20, 30 minutes from home. Sometimes, as was recently, it's longer trips or 2 to 3 hours. Adults who drive can always stay the weekend and camp, though it's not required.

  5. I appreciate the guidance all. These are all helpful.


    As I'm digging into this role, I'm finding that my predecessor was a "do a lot of it myself" guy. He called parents to get them to drive, he made all the reservations for trips, he planned the join scouting program. He liked taking these jobs on. That's not to say that there are not a lot of parents involved - there are. For example, there's a finance chair and an advancement coordinator, but no membership coordinator or activities chair. My gut sense is that you've got the committee structure for a troop of 30-40, but a group of about 100 boys.


    It's also a mixture of adult led and boy led. The adults plan about half the trips. The boys plan the other half. Even in the case of the boy led trips, the adults still do transportation logistics.


    I'm thinking the approach here is to:

    - real short term - leverage the committee to get the immediate events staffed.

    - short term - establish why a troop committee is important and lay out a plan for building it up.

    - mid term - build up the committee

    - long term - migrate away from adult led events



  6. I just took over as the committee chair of my son's troop. It's a large troop - about 100 boys.


    One of the classic problems the troop has is that there are never enough parents to help with driving on campouts, or serving as adult support on trips. Almost every trip there is a flurry of emails begging for someone to drive. A few times a year, the Troop plans some trips where adult support is crucial. In those cases, it's always a lot of work to make sure there are enough adults to cover the program. The troop has had to cancel trips when a trip's adult leader had to cancel at the last minute.


    Generally the troop has a great program - I'm just trying to shine some light on this aspect.


    I'd appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!

  7. When I was a scout, I didn't want citizenship or religion either. In isolation, most kids don't want to spend their time off on that. I wanted adventure and fun.


    I was very gung-ho to start. I tolerated those things because I recognized that were necessary to advance. I wanted to advance because I enjoyed scouting and wanted to move along in it. Being Star or Life was the goal - not earning Citizenship in the Community. Eventually, I ran out of steam on Scouting itself. I became disillusioned with the silly rules and structure. Once I did, advancement became meaningless to me. I ended up taking time off, but went back a year or two later. I didn't last.


    That was 30 years ago.


    The challenge I see is that we've not collectively figured out what makes scouting fun. As such, you've got a mixed message that is muddled. So, you get a very uneven program.


    If I were debating this, I'd consider bringing a camera and taking pictures instead. Most collections can be accomplished through photography.


    Beyond that, my question would be - what's the location where the items are being gathered from and do you have permission to gather the items?


    If it were a high traffic, public place, and you had permission to do so, then it could be OK. For example, collecting rocks on a school playground could be fine. Similarly, gathering shells on a city beach could be OK too. Getting permission would be great too as it would give you the opportunity to talk about land management too.


    If it were a natural setting, state park, or national park, I'd avoid it all together.



    • Upvote 1
  9. It will be interesting to see how the CS -> BS leader transitions work out in the CO's Troop this year. That particular troop is pretty large (100+ scouts) and openly welcomes CS leaders to join as BS leaders. While I'm planning to bow out of whichever troop my son joins, I know of a couple at least that will make the den leader to BS leader transition. That troop will generally will find them some specific role - such as being a MB counselor or serving on the Troop committee.


  10. and for crying out loud.....



    Don't rush to follow your son to the troop, let him have a year or so of no dad hanging around.


    As pointed out in many many thread....The absolute worst Boy Scout leaders are the newly crossed over Cub Scout leaders.

    Thanks for the advice. Yep - my plan is to retire from scouting once he crosses over. 5 years wearing all kinds of Cub Scouting hats is enough. Maybe it's a year - maybe for good.
  11. Why are WE visiting the Troop.



    May you should stay in the car and let your son go and evaluate the meeting.



    After all it is his scouting experience not yours.......Regardless of his decision you should support him

    Thanks for the comments.


    "We" were visiting the Troop because the Troop invited the scout and parents to attend.


    As dad, I'm here to help him weigh and discuss the choices. But at the end of the day, yes, it's his choice.

  12. As a fellow CM, I commend you for all your hard work. Thank you so much for working as hard as you are. As CM, it can often feel like everyone is looking at you to make this all work.


    First thing I'd decide is if you want to keep trying. I wouldn't question you at all if you said - I'm done. It seems to me that many packs recruit a CM and stop there. They forget that he/she is just one of many players.


    If you want to make it work, there are some fantastic suggestions above. In additional, a few specific thoughts:

    1. In my experience, the most important thing now is get more help. One thing to ask yourself is how are you trying to recruit folks to help? Are you making announcements to the pack? (i.e., parents, I need someone to volunteer to be Committee Chair) Or, are you directly asking people? If you are not directly asking people, then try that approach - it is generally more successful.


    2. Decide what you will do and won't do. Stop trying to do it all. For example, don't organize the PWD or popcorn yourself. As CM, I'd focus on pack meetings, pack campouts, recruiting leaders, and join scouting. Make those pack meetings and campouts fun. Tell parents that if they want a PWD or popcorn sales, someone needs to organize it.


    3. If boys think the pack meetings are boring - listen to that. Don't overlook the value of fast paced, simple pack meetings. Boys love to be up, moving around, and playing games. The best recevied pack meetings we have are the ones full of activity. They are not usually the ones where we're giving lots of awards or having special ceremonies.


    4. Identify your top needs for volunteers. Clearly identify the responsibilities of each role. Recruit teams to fulfill those roles. i.e., recruit a PWD team. recruit a summer activity team. don't recruit a den leader, but a den leader and an assistant. With an untrained set of parents, most of them are unsure of what to do or how much work it is. I'm sure they all realize the hours you put in and assume that they might have to as well. If you get a PWD team, then they know they will not be alone.


    5. Do you have a leader's meeting? If not, organize a monthly one.


    6. Tell parents your first leader's meeting is mandatory. At the meeting, take your volunteer list and explain it. Tell them you need everyone to do something. Then ask one by one what job each will do. From there, get creative - perhaps you broadcast the signup list to all the families. Maybe you call folks who didn't attend and ask which job they will do. Basically, don't ask if they will help. Tell them that you expect that they will help and then ask how.


    7. You mention at least one other leader - the Bear den leader. Are there others? If you have not yet, spend some time with them. Perhaps go out for coffee or a frosty adult beverage (or whatever works for you all). Enlist their help. For example - I'm curious how you ended up in the situation where you reorganized the pack & den meetings, but now that den can't come. Was that den leader part of the decision process? Did he/she buy in to the change? If he/she did, but circumstances changed, then no big deal - go back to the old system. Sit down together, and work out a group strategy.


    With 19 families you've got a nice, family sized pack. Everyone can know each other and work together. Though it can be difficult to get enough folks to help, it can also be a real strength.

  13. I suspect kids today are not that different than they were when I was one. I had no interest in school, homework, etc. I didn't earn every badge I could by a long shot. I enjoyed being recognized for my accomplishments at a pack meeting, but didn't connect that to actually doing work.


    That said, I think that all the managing of the program to award Cubs lots of bling has reduced the amount of self reliance. I recall as a Cub doing work on my own. The cubs in our pack - they rarely do individual work. Each month you see every boy in a den getting the same awards - those earned by attending den meetings. As a Cub, I remember picking up my book and looking through it to find electives to complete. I doubt very many Cubs do that today.


    I don't think it's a question of today's kids vs. yesterday's, but do think it's a by-product of how we've manage the program today. The boys today know that they just have to show up and they get awards.


    I remember I had a Wolf tell me the other day - "I've not received an award in a few months now" to which I said "you can earn an award any time you want, you need to pick one out and work on it."

  14. Thanks all for the continued advice and coaching.


    We'll be going back to visit again. Perhaps it was a great meeting, but my son & I didn't realize it. Perhaps it was a bad week, not indicative of a regular meeting. Or perhaps they are not the Troop that will excite my son. I just don't think we saw enough to know.


    To add a little more background. We have camped with the CO's Troop many times. They usually invite the Webelos to join a camping trip once or twice a year. As a cub leader, I usually attended these. My son has joined me several times. When we do camp with them, we interact with the Boy Scouts - but generally camp with the Troop adults or in an area set aside for the Cubs. The trips have been fun and we've enjoyed going. These trips are generally organized by the Troop adults, so we don't see much of the Boy Scouts in any sort of capacity other than participants - really just as older peers to the Webelos.


    I'm fine with chaos and a lack or order. I think I was just hoping to see more "activity". Scouts breaking off into groups, working as patrols, etc. Again, perhaps we just hit the meeting at the wrong time.


    One strength of the CO's Troop is some pretty neat trips - in fact in the parents meeting, we heard all about the trips. Yet, it makes me worry that the Troop is all about the trips, but they don't focus as much on developing the Troop as a unit. But maybe that's OK?


    Deep down, I'd like him to find a Troop that will help him grow and challenge him. I think a Boy led troop would be better for that (as opposed to Webelos III) . To be honest though, I'd just like him to find a Troop that excites him - at least a little. I worry that he joins, does it for a year, then is bored. If he'd jumped in the car after that meeting and said "I want to join this one". Given that we have experience with that Troop, I'd have been happy with that. I'd also have been happy to let my own concerns go to the side. If it meant I needed to help out with the Troop at some point, I'd do that too - though it is not what I'm neccessarily planning to do. I was so involved in the pack and his den that I'd like him to be able to have some space from always having Dad involved. If I do tag along, grabbing a cup of coffee and a chair sounds like a great idea :)


    Needless to say, all this has reinforced that we need to see more and to see some other options. I'll also be sure to take Eagle92's suggestion of looking over some older posts to see what to look for.


    Thank you all

  15. This sounds like a case of having a preconceived expectation going in, and then realizing that your expectation did not match reality. I say this as a good thing.

    Listen, when a Troop plans for a WEBELOS visit, they try and make it fun, or what they perceive as fun for the WEBELOS. So your son knows how to build a fire. Did he pay attention and take notice of what materials the Boy Scouts were using for tinder and kindling? Did he ask any questions? I would think that fire building and toasting marshmallows would be kinda fun.


    One thing to remember too is that some Troop meetings can be pretty dry. The real action happens on the outings. I would ask the Troop if they would be willing to host you and the WEBELOS on an upcoming outing. That is where you will see the Troop in action.

    I think I was writing my append as you were posting - sorry!


    The word expectations seems very appropriate here. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was surely expecting something to happen. Perhaps I was looking for a little bit of idealized Troop behavior. SPL in charge, scouts working in patrols on something.


    Thinking about it, I'm not quite sure what to expect from a Troop meeting. I remember attending many as a scout myself - but the only ones I have any recollection of was when we were planning for a campout, or cleaning great after one. Maybe I'm expecting too much patrol behavior.


    Attending an activity sounds like a good idea - I see precisely what you mean.


    Just to close the loop on the fire building. I talked to my son. The story I got was that there ended up not really being any fire building going on. While that were going to "teach" it, the older boys ended up just starting the fire and handing out coat hangers to roast the Marshmallows. Some of the Webelos ended up just running around and playing. My son was feeling tired last night so he didn't proactively ask questions. This also meant he wasn't into running around last night with his friends and so was bored. It sounded like there were good intentions, but they didn't quite happen as they thought it would. So, had he been a bit more energetic, he could have probably made more out of it.

  16. Thank you all so much - your suggestions are immensely helpful.


    We'll be back to see how a meeting really runs this time. We'll definitely visit another troop(s?) and do the same thing there too - maybe even more than once.


    We've camped with them numerous times in the past and do think they are generally a good group. They do a ton of outreach to the pack. But for all that outreach, I couldn't tell you what life is like for a scout. Thinking about it more today, one of my concerns (as Dad) was the lack of patrol structure I saw. It always seems like a bunch of Scouts and the SPL or SM. We definitely need another visit.


    Thanks again all

    I like that idea. That feels like a good way to see just how much of a patrol oriented troop it is.
  17. Thank you all so much - your suggestions are immensely helpful.


    We'll be back to see how a meeting really runs this time. We'll definitely visit another troop(s?) and do the same thing there too - maybe even more than once.


    We've camped with them numerous times in the past and do think they are generally a good group. They do a ton of outreach to the pack. But for all that outreach, I couldn't tell you what life is like for a scout. Thinking about it more today, one of my concerns (as Dad) was the lack of patrol structure I saw. It always seems like a bunch of Scouts and the SPL or SM. We definitely need another visit.


    Thanks again all

  18. My son is getting ready to crossover into Boy Scouts. Last night we had the visit with our CO's troop. It did not go well.


    A little background. Our CO has a very active Scouting program. We've been involved with the pack since my son was a Tiger. Our pack is very active - lots of camping and activities, good leaders, strong dens. For the last two years, I've been CM of the pack.


    Our CO's Troop is very large and has a very active program. Lots of trips - usually more than one a month. A good mix of local camping and high adventure. There is a very active leadership team in the Troop. There is an active New Scout program.


    Our visit last night was not very good. There was a session for parents that ran that was a long discussion of mundane Troop details. There was almost no program for the Webelos. Some Boy Scouts told the Webelos that they'd do some fire building - some of the boys came up to me and said "but we already know how to build fires". In the end, the Boy Scouts ended up standing around with the Webelos roasting some Marshmallows. My son was back inside bored 10 minutes after he went off with the Boy Scouts.


    The Troop meeting was going on at the same time as all this, but in a different part of the CO. The Boy Scouts never took the Webelos to see it.


    After the parent session was over, I grabbed my son and said "let's go see the Troop meeting". When we got there, they'd just broken up for a game. When the game was over, the Troop went back inside for a discussion of the upcoming Troop meetings with the SM. It was really boring. My son lasted for about 5 minutes and said "let's go home".


    When we got to the car, I asked my son what he thought - all I got was an "it's OK". We talked a bit and he said - "I think I'd like to see another troop". I asked him again at breakfast what he thought. He just kinda shrugged his shoulders.


    As dad, I'm 100% behind visiting other troops. As both dad & CM, my interest is in helping the boys find a good Troop and encouraging them to continue in Scouting. As a Scouter, I plan to take some time off, so my son is clearly in the driver's seat here.


    The Troop had a bad night that I expect exposed some of their latent faults. They do have an active program with a lot of engaged boys. I'm pretty sure that the night visit was due to poor planning by both the adult & boy leadership. I'm sure this exposes some of the Troop's faults.


    So, my dilemma is how to deal with a poorly planned & executed Troop visit. I'm sure we'll go see another Troop. But, how much room do you try to give the CO's Troop the chance to recover?

  19. Over time, we've evolved our calendar such that we have three events.

    1. Our B&G is a regular pack meeting with games, cake, & ice cream. It's a birthday party.

    2. Our crossover is a part of a separate pack meeting. Boys line up, cross the bridge, and are welcomed by a troop

    3. We have a banquet late in the spring. It's kind of an end of year thing.


    We split them up for the reasons listed above:

    - having a banquet, awards recognition, and crossover all at once meant 2 hours of boys sitting. it was no fun. I took over as CM minutes before the Crossover. I looked up and noticed that all the Cubs had long since left their chairs and were running around in the back of the room. This was the last time we had all three at once.

    - pushing the recognition banquet until the end of the year meant we ended the game of rushing to get rank awards done. Now dens have all year to get them done.


    The first year was tough. The rising Webelos 2 boys were bummed that they would not get to have their crossover in front of the B&G. So, we planned a meaningful crossover in front of the whole pack at the Pack Meeting. It seemed well received.


    My .02 - do what works best for the boys and don't worry too much about history.

  20. I try to remember that a DE is a paid staffer for what is essentially a non-profit, volunteer organization. Organizations like that still have to pay the bills & keep the lights on. With that in mind, I'm not surprised that a DE's focus is heavily on membership & fundraising.


    For our units, we don't really put the DE in our critical path, but don't really ask him for permission to do things. He's more like an adjunct leader we interact with for assistance than someone we have significant expectations of. I don't mean that to sound harsh or negative, it's not. Our unit leaders control our own destiny. For example, we plan our own recruiting campaign and build our own strong program. We get great recruiting turn out from a proactive campaign and good word of mouth. So, in turn, our DE works with us as he recognizes it's good for him and the district to do so.


    For the district, my rule of thumb is that we shouldn't complain about district operations unless we're willing to contribute to making them better. If we're not willing to contribute, then we just participate in other ways. For example, there are not a lot of district level service opportunities right now, so we're planning our own. There's no district cuboree, so we found a neighboring council with one and attend theirs. On the flip side, we needed unit leaders trained, so we significantly staffed local district trainings.


  21. I took it and would take it again. I'd been a scout leader for about a year. I was involved as a youth for about 6-7 years.


    I've taken numerous leadership development courses outside of scouting, but was fine with listening again - reinforcing those ideas is not a bad thing. I see Wood Badge primarily as: a seminar on leading units, a survey course of the scouting program, an opportunity to interact with some pretty committed scouters from around your council, an opportunity to let go a bit and have fun with adult scouters.


    Wood Badge is not an outdoor skill building course.

  22. I'm not a DE, but having dealt with DEs and watched district operations, here's my .02:


    - Ask the field director what his (or her) goals are for you as a DE. Is it FOS, it is membership, district operations, something else? Have a discussion about that with the FD.

    - Ask what has worked in the past in regard to meeting those goals. For example, if it's membership, what has been done in that district in the past.

    For example, I never see our DE going to schools and doing boy talks - I can't imagine that happening here. If this is a really successful council, perhaps they already have units that know how to recruit. So, your role in supporting them will be quite different than your role in supporting a district with units that do not recruit.

    - Ask about additional expectations of the role. i.e., what extra meetings do you need to attend? When are staff meetings, how do they work?

    - Bring some of your own ideas to those goals & expectations. Again, if it's membership, be prepared with some thought out ideas of how you could add to what they do.

  23. Cub leaders should definitely attend Wood Badge. Leading a Cub Pack has different dynamics than a Boy Scout Troop, but it's no less difficult. It requires trained leaders too. Many of the skills you learn in Wood Badge are directly applicable to the Cub experience. Leading a team of adult, planning large events, developing an annual program - these are all the things that den & pack leaders do all the time.
    I am referring to all Cub leaders - that includes pack committee members, Cubmasters, Asst. Cubmasters, as well as Den leaders. Many packs I know are 40+, if not 60+ boys & families. Organizing a pack is a lot of work.


    However, since you mention den leaders, let's look at that. One of my den leaders plans our B&G banquet. It's a feast for 200 people with catered food, program, activities, etc. It requires coordinating amongst numerous adults, leaders, and dens. Several other den leaders plan portions of our campouts for 150 people. The Webelos den leaders coordinate joint activities across 4 different dens. They are planning several Webelos campouts and other activities a year.


    Let's think about the den leaders in their own dens. For example, they need to sit down and figure out how to complete the 12 different requirements of the Bear rank across 25 meetings. That's 25 different meetings, activities, field trips, etc. You could just throw that together or you could sit down and come up with a cohesive plan for the year. Being a den leader isn't just about then hour you're sitting with the boys. There's a lot of behind the scenes activity to make that hour seamless.


    The project planning section of WB is just an hour or two. That's an appropriate level of background for these events. Having den leaders go through an hour on project planning is a good thing in my book.


    There's many different ways to look at the Wood Badge program. If you look at the individual courses, most of them have some relevance to Cub leaders. I've mentioned project planning, but there are others too. However, you could just as easily look at Wood Bdage as a course designed to get leaders focused on building a vision and executing it. That's a great thing for den leaders to do. Reducing Wood Badge to a course on the stages of team development is too simplistic.

    • Upvote 2
  24. It's going to be hard to find a single sentence description. Scouting really is many different things. Probably the closest you'll get is:

    "The purpose of this corporation shall be to promote, through organization and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using methods which are now in common use by the Boy Scouts."

    • Upvote 1
  25. Cub leaders should definitely attend Wood Badge. Leading a Cub Pack has different dynamics than a Boy Scout Troop, but it's no less difficult. It requires trained leaders too. Many of the skills you learn in Wood Badge are directly applicable to the Cub experience. Leading a team of adult, planning large events, developing an annual program - these are all the things that den & pack leaders do all the time.

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